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The Sound of Music returns to theatres as movie industry seeks new money from old films

03/27/2015 06:27 EDT | Updated 05/27/2015 05:59 EDT
When it premiered in 1965, many influential critics panned it. Now, 50 years later, The Sound of Music is a Hollywood classic, with a score almost everyone knows and adores. But there's another reason the film industry is increasingly fond of the movie — the sound of money.

For a film industry threatened by new media, peddling old digitally remastered films is becoming bigger and bigger business.

"They can restore and remaster these prints," says Cineplex Entertainment's Bradley LaDouceur. "So we get a chance to bring them back and show them to audiences and families and people who have never seen them on the big screen. And we continue to look for what's the next remaster, what's the next anniversary, and the titles that the public are really crying out to see again."

Titles like The Sound of Music. Coming soon: a commemorative five-disc collection, a rereleased soundtrack, and in April the film will be screened in more than 500 movie theatres, including several in Canada.

"It worked in the past and they feel it will work in the future," says Classic Film Watch editor Mary McCord. "And I think they've been proven right on that because they've found an audience for it."   

Edmonton's Peter Kozak counts himself among that audience. He flew to Los Angeles just for the Turner Classic Movie festival, which is honouring The Sound of Music. He camped out with his camera near the red carpet just for a glimpse of co-stars Julie Andrews and Canadian Christopher Plummer.

"When you see the celebrities, they're not as big as what you may think," he says smiling.

Kozak believes the classics are popular these days not just because they were so good, but because the new releases are so poor.

"I think there's a lot of formula that goes into making films nowadays," he says. "When major studios start making films, they want to be guaranteed a profit. So they will stick to a certain formula."

Some of the actors in another old classic popular with the nostalgic sing-along crowd agree.

The 1978 classic Grease is also being featured at the movie festival. Michael Tucci, who played T-bird Sonny LaTierri, says the industry's on a hamster wheel because it's out of ideas.

"It's tough to write," Tucci says. "Look at Broadway: it's all revivals."

Co-star Kelly Ward believes making a classic like The Sound of Music would be impossible now.

"Back when Sound of Music premiered, that film would be in theatres for months, in towns all across the country," she says. "Now you've got to make your movie in two weeks, three weeks. And you're a hit if you run that long."

But critic Leonard Maltin believes there are limits to the nostalgia industry. Not any old film can be recycled for a profit.

"I love the 1930s let's say. But there were a lot of crummy movies in the '30s. Those are not the ones we revive," Maltin says. "For every Casablanca there are about 10 duds made back then. But the good ones survive."

It's taken Christopher Plummer 50 years to agree.

On his way down the red carpet, The Sound of Music co-star who famously dubbed it "The Sound of Mucus' walked back decades-worth of scorn for the film.

"I don't have any sort of terrible criticisms now," Plummer says. "They've been washed away by the years. And it is a lovely film and I do respect it even though I've been very naughty about it over the years."

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